JONATHAN MCEVOY: it's time for F1 to move on from Abu Dhabi debacle

JONATHAN McEVOY: Mercedes have been handed Michael Masi’s head… but it is a month too late and it is time for F1 to move on from the Abu Dhabi debacle

  • The FIA released their report into the Abu Dhabi title decider on Saturday
  • It admits that ‘human error’ from Michael Masi led to Max Verstappen’s title win 
  • But the report should have been published when Masi was sacked last month
  • It would have drawn a line under the controversy and allowed F1 to move on 

It only took 97 days to write up seven pages stating mostly the blindingly obvious about the final race debacle in Abu Dhabi. By the FIA’s arthritic standards it was almost a sprint.

They should have published the report when they threw their chief official Michael Masi under the bus last month. It would have drawn a line under the situation rather earlier than two hours before the first qualifying session of the year.

That aside, I don’t go along with some shrill voices here that the report was an inadequate whitewash. Or that Mercedes deserved an explicit apology. They had already been handed what they wanted most: Masi’s head. 

The FIA confirmed that ‘human error’ from Michael Masi led to Max Verstappen’s title win

A report into the Abu Dhabi race was released before the first qualifier for the new season 

A life ruined for trying to referee fairly, to satisfy a team’s understandable desire for redress over the manner in which they believe Lewis Hamilton was robbed of an eighth world title.

As well as putting into print the sweeping changes they outlined last month to the race directorship — two new incumbents and an experienced adviser in old hand Herbie Blash, a review system, a limit on radio exchanges — the FIA’s report struck a decent balance. They admitted ‘human error’ while also stressing that Masi ‘acted in good faith’.

The Australian erred in his decision-making but, in fairness, he did not want a great championship to finish under a safety car. He was procedurally wrong. 

Michael Masi has since been sacked but the FIA state that he ‘acted in good faith’

But teams and officials had previously agreed that racing should go ahead whenever possible. That consideration must also be born in mind.

The report also stated that he came under ‘immense pressure’ from ‘distracting’ radio exchanges from the Mercedes and Red Bull camps.

All fair points. But change the result? No, it is sport, and at some stage you have to get on with life. Tell me, was Maradona’s Hand of God goal chalked off? Any serial FIA-bashers, or one-eyed Hamilton fans, should remember that Masi has lost his job and his status, and received death threats.

What more do you want? Blood?

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